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(Re)Boosting Marketplace Performance: 6 Key levers

By 21 March 2024April 12th, 2024Publications

Today, after several years of activity and despite the power of the model, numerous players fail to reach the expected level of activity and performance for their marketplace. (Re)boosting this performance requires the activation of 6 key levers.

Over the past 15 years, many players, both digital pure players and omnichannel, have adopted the marketplace model, in France (Decathlon, Cdiscount, Leroy Merlin, Fnac, La Redoute, Carrefour, etc.) and internationally (Walmart, Wayfair, Boots, etc.). Some to face the increasingly strong competition from Amazon, whose marketplace activity now represents two-thirds of its sales, and all with the aim of accelerating their e-commerce activity and becoming the reference platform for customers in their field.

Today, after a few years of activity, some players have managed to reach and even exceed their initial objectives, with high-performing marketplaces generating more than 30% of their total e-commerce sales: Walmart, Maisons du Monde, B&Q. However, despite the power of the model (which is praised by customers for its convenience as a one-stop-shop, its wide range of offerings, its competitive pricing, etc.), others have not yet succeeded in fully leveraging its commercial potential.

The analysis of high-performing marketplaces shows that their effectiveness is based on 6 key levers.

A clear vision and value proposition

The success of a marketplace relies first and foremost (1st lever) on a clear target vision, ambition (including financial) and value proposition of the marketplace. This proposition must be defined at 3 levels: for the customers, for the partner sellers, and for the operator. This marketplace strategy must be supported by the executive, to ensure its proper execution.

This vision must be implemented through (2nd lever) a coherent offering strategy, based on: an alignment with the operator marketing & offering strategy, the contribution to the one-stop-shop positioning (while possibly remaining highly selective, as Decathlon), and an added value compared to the existing own offering (complementarity in terms of pricing and/or categories and/or products, breadth and/or depth of offering).

Then, the acquisition strategy (3rd lever) must enable to generate traffic, acquire new customers and avoid cannibalization, which requires a reorientation of digital marketing teams and an evolution of their management tools.

A high-quality experience and service

The operator must ensure a high level of quality delivered in terms of customer journey and service. Regarding the customer journey (4th lever), it must particularly ensure consistent and high-quality content for the marketplace offering, especially on product pages, and ensure good visibility/presentation of third-party products, which are sometimes disadvantaged in favour of own offering.

Regarding service (5th lever), the operator must guarantee customers an end-to-end promise of the same level as for the “classic” e-commerce journey. This includes, notably, product availability, customer relationship management (handling of inquiries and complaints), delivery promise (available options, meeting deadlines), and ideally, omnichannel services (click & collect, in-store access to the marketplace offering via vendor tablets, etc.).

An optimised partnership management

Finally, accelerating a marketplace involves (6th lever) recruiting enough partner sellers and retaining them, especially the best ones. It requires having adequate dedicated resources, as well as specific processes and management tools for seller management. To attract and, most importantly, retain the best partners, the operator must be able to offer them quality tools for managing their activities, while also developing (often paid) services that enable them to enhance their performance: retail media, logistics management, financing options, etc.


If the marketplace model can become a powerful accelerator for e-commerce, its success is therefore not guaranteed. It requires clear definition and mastery of the six presented levers, from strategy to service quality. With these conditions met, the marketplace can unleash its full potential as a unique model for traffic generation and profitability, including through additional revenues generation from seller partners, such as retail media and data monetization.

Maxime de Noirmont and François Cousi, PMP Strategy

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